Lt. Governor Debate

Kristin Collum and Janice McGeachin, the Democratic and Republican candidates for Lieutenant Governor of Idaho, face off in the “Idaho Debates” broadcast live from the studios of Idaho Public Televisionon Wednesday.

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The two rivals vying to be Idaho’s lieutenant governor outlined starkly different views during their statewide debate tonight, with Republican Janice McGeachin warning against “traveling down the progressive path” and Democrat Kristin Collum saying she wants to “pull us back into the middle in these divisive times.”

“From what I see, it is this extreme side, either from the right or the left, it is this extreme ideology that takes us away from moving forward,” Collum said. “Right now everyone’s feeling the divisiveness. They’re feeling that stretch, that rip in the fabric, and it’s because there’s divisiveness from both sides stretching it like a rubber band and it’s going to break.”

She spoke repeatedly in favor of expanding Medicaid, as proposed in Proposition 2 on the November ballot, touted her background in the military and the high-tech sector, and called herself a “moderate and pragmatic leader who feels a deep loyalty to our state and country.”

McGeachin spoke out against abortion and same-sex marriage, “absolutely” backed the Bundy family in its anti-government protests, and declared she wants to “keep Idaho conservative.”

“I do not believe in universal health care or a massive government program in healthcare, but rather support the free market,” McGeachin said.

“In Idaho, we have embraced the original design of our government, a constitutional republic where citizens are governed with a light touch, federal government is limited, and our God-given unalienable rights are sacrosanct,” she said. “These conservative values are now at risk. We must stand firm and keep Idaho conservative, despite the attacks from the left.”

Idaho’s lieutenant governor’s main duties are to preside over the state Senate and fill in for the governor when the governor is out of state or incapacitated. But most lieutenant governors have been assigned additional duties by the governors they serve with, from vetting state appointees to working on economic development.

Tonight's debate was the sole face-off between the two candidates; you can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up tomorrow morning's Idaho Press. The full debate also will be available online here for viewing at any time, along with all of the Idaho Debates.

The Idaho Debates are a collaborative effort among the Idaho Press Club, Boise State University's School of Public Service, the University of Idaho's McClure Center, Idaho State University's Department of Political Science, the League of Women Voters Education Fund, and Idaho Public Television.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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